Unplugging

summer

My vacation ends tonight. Tomorrow I’ll be back at work, sifting through the hundreds of emails that arrived when I was away and ignoring them.

I also didn’t keep up with twitter, or facebook, or my feed reader. For the first week, I was a real luddite: no computer, no phone, and it as it turned out even no television. Unplugging felt good.

I read a couple of good books, went for long walks, took lots of photographs, took naps. Spent hours beachcombing and staring out into space. I got a massage. I ate great food (and wonderful candy, and drank possibly the best ever iced coffee). I pretty much didn’t do anything I didn’t feel like doing for two weeks.

low tide

As I prepare to deal with tomorrow — the emails, the meetings, the flow of updates — I want to remember this relaxed, rested feeling and how it isn’t something I can get only two weeks a year.

I’m going to try to not give in to a sense of hurry. I can be busy, but can opt out of needless anxiety. I’m going to resist constantly feeling behind and the need to catch up. I unsubscribed from everything in my feed reader; I’ll build it back up as I see things I like, and as I remember to go back and resubscribe to the things I actually miss.

lavender

Going forward, I’m going to try unplugging every Saturday. I’m always thinking I want more time to read, more time to spend on my photography, more time to devote to not-quite-yet formed project ideas, and choosing to spend one day a week offline seems like a good way to find that time.

In the future we’ll live like the Jetsons

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I learned this from the Spaceship Earth ride in Epcot, which has been refurbished and is a lot of fun. Geek thrill: man in garage creating the future computers for regular people.

Other things I realized/remembered on vacation:

  • Disney employees (“cast members”) must go through the best customer experience training on earth. They are friendly, polite, helpful and they all seem to genuinely care that I’m having a great time.
  • It is possible to do public transit well. As compared to Boston’s MBTA, Disney’s vehicles are clean, well-maintained, show up at regular intervals, and arrive where they are supposed to without delays or interference from “traffic up ahead”.
  • I don’t need my computer or phone or the television (other than quick checks of the weather channel on mute) on vacation. For me, the whole point is to get away, relax, and disconnect from the daily routine. I’m not worried I’m going to miss something by not checking my email or twitter or facebook; I’d rather not miss the experience I got away to have.
  • I’m never going to be too old to want to be told stories. Everything at Disney is a story, and you are surrounded by context that supports it. My favorite show at Disney (and it is hard to choose a favorite, with so many excellent ones, like the Festival of the Lion King) is Illuminations in Epcot. It begins with lit torches circling the lagoon in world showcase, and a booming voice tells us we are gathered “around the fire as people of all lands have gathered for thousands and thousands of years before us… to share the light… and to share a story” — then the torches are blown out, like so many birthday candles. It gets me every time.

illuminations, epcot

radio silence

I’ll be offline until next Friday: no blogging, no twittering, no flickr, no email, no IM, no facebook. There’s this thing called a vacation, and once a year I try unplug for mine.

See you all next week (briefly) before I’m out of town again. Yay vacation!